Main causes of post-delivery constipation and how to deal with it
So, your state of pregnancy is finally over and your little bundle of joy has arrived! But all of a sudden, you have so much more to do than you ever thought was possible. The post-delivery phase is one where you have to devote a lot of time and attention to your baby, and also take care of your own needs. So, apart from dealing with sleeplessness and exhaustion, you might also need to fight common post pregnancy concerns like constipation. After delivery, you might discover that what used to take a few minutes in the toilet is now taking ages. The morning routine of passing stools might no longer be smooth and can be painful too. However, it is possible to remedy this situation with a few tricks. This article helps you to understand the causes behind constipation after delivery and find out ways to manage it.
Causes of constipation after delivery
The following questions might be bothering you:
Is it because of all the medicines I am taking after delivery?
Yes, it is true that some medicines do cause constipation after delivery. Your doctor might have provided certain medications to ease the pain after pregnancy. It might be an anaesthetic or a painkiller. While these are very helpful for alleviating pain, some might cause constipation. The good news is that your bowel movement will return to normal after you discontinue the medication. Even the vitamins you are taking now can affect the process. For instance, the constipation might be due to the iron content of these supplements. It is however important that you take vitamins and minerals during breastfeeding as your baby depends on it for growth and development. However, do consult your doctor for a formula that does not cause constipation after delivery.
Is it just me?
No, most women go through this problem. Women who have experienced vaginal delivery especially go through a challenging phase. Their perineum becomes very tender after birthing. And they naturally hesitate to push the stools due to the pain, and worry about damaging the vaginal stitches. Even mothers who have had C-section are wary of putting pressure as they are worried about tearing the operational stitches. The fear is often psychological. After all, you have to exert a certain amount of pressure to pass the stools. Remember that your vaginal stitches or the stitches after surgery will not tear because of the pressure. Women with haemorrhoids also have difficulty passing stools due to the immense pain and it is natural to hold back stools in such cases. You can however get help with some medications that can ease the pain due to haemorrhoids.
Is it because of my digestive system?
In some mothers, the digestive system is naturally clogged up due to the hormonal changes and food habits. You have several options to keep it moving smoothly though. Fibre-rich foods can be of immense help, for instance. So, choose to have more oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables and fruits.
Tips for constipation after delivery
Include grains with high-fibre content in your diet
High-fibre content is very helpful for the smooth passage of stools. The following grains are ideal for this.
- Whole-grain cereals
- Brown rice
- Items made with bran, oat bran or flaxseed
Add dry fruits and nuts to your diet
Raisins, dried apricots, dried plums, and figs can add sufficient fibre and nutritional value to your diet. You can add some nuts too, to prevent constipation after delivery. Nuts are a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids as well.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals and can improve the bowel movement. You should try and eat them in the raw or steamed form and with skin.
Legumes, lentils, and black beans can be taken in the form of soups, salads or salsas.
Including olive oil in dishes made with chicken, fish, and pasta, can improve lubrication.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out the stools and toxins
You should have at least eight glasses of water in a day. You can also have other forms of fluids, like fresh fruit juices, to flush the stools out. Some women find a hot cup of lemon water helpful.
Being sedentary will not help your cause. While it is surely challenging to walk or move after a major surgery like C-section, you should try to stay as active as possible, to help loosen the bowels.
Relax and rest well
Stress is not good for digestion. Relax and get plenty of sleep to recover from the surgery and to get your system back to normal.
How to avoid constipation after delivery?
Now, let us look at the foods that you should avoid to prevent constipation.
- Avoid refined foods such as white rice, white bread or noodles made of refined flour.
- Avoid chocolates
- Avoid raw bananas
If the above measures still don’t work, you can consider fibre supplementation. There are various bulking agents available that can increase the bulk of the stool. Good examples are wheat bran and psyllium husk. However, consult your doctor first before taking these. A medical professional can also suggest options like laxatives or other stool softeners.